A Restorative Conversion

Mother and sometimes even doctor to her spiritually ailing children, Dona Lucilia also proves to be a great intercessor for restoring souls, and a tireless shepherdess in search of stray sheep.

Dear reader, the text you are about to read is not just the story of a grace received through the intercession of Dona Lucilia. It is, in fact, the inspiring account of a conversion, which shows us this lady’s motherly knack for removing obstacles along a painful journey.

At the end of this process, her protégé consecrated herself to Our Lady as a slave of love, according to the method of St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, and understood her own role as a mother.

However, in order to help you follow every detail of this spiritual restoration, we want to tell you the story from the beginning, by describing the kind of life Thaís Lira and her husband Clovis were living before Dona Lucilia intervened decisively in their lives.

Far from God and His Church

Born in Manaus, like her husband, Thaís suffered from depression from the age of fifteen, a problem aggravated by the religious relativism in which she was immersed, as she explains:

“Unfortunately, I was not living a very good life, because I believed that all religions were right. I even went to a Buddhist temple and underwent esoteric treatments in search of a cure for my depression.”

Thaís had suffered from depression since age fifteen, a problem only worsened by the religious relativism in which she was immersed

After graduating in Law, Thaís applied to work for the Amazonas Civil Police force and was hired. However, the contact with crime made her condition even worse: “I had to take medication and started psychological treatment.”

Furthermore, her married life was not exemplary: “We were never ardent Catholics, we had a lot of misconceptions about marriage. I did not think it was important to have children and my husband ended up agreeing with me.”

They were living a life that was basically estranged from God and his Holy Church, when her husband received an advantageous job offer in Recife, where the couple soon moved. Thaís arrived there determined to change her profession:

“In Recife, I began my studies for a diplomatic career, which I had always wanted to pursue. To cure my depression, I sought psychiatric treatment, but nothing worked. I also tried to be a better Catholic, but I did not have much success in this, either.”

Meeting the Heralds of the Gospel

In 2013, again due to work-related issues for her husband, the couple moved to the city of Cotia, in São Paulo. Unbeknownst to her, Divine Providence was leading her to the solution to her problems: “In Cotia I found my cure. In the midst of all this darkness, I received a visit from a couple of Heralds.”

For a long time Thaís’ family had been contributing to the evangelizing activities of the Heralds of the Gospel, but she had never been interested in getting to know the institution better. She continues:

“We were definitely sympathizers of the Heralds, and I remember leafing through their magazines and saying to myself: ‘They look so happy! Does that really exist? If it does, it is far removed from me! There’s no way I can be part of this…’ I just didn’t think it was something for me.”

As well as encouraging her in the practice of her Faith, that visit left two good memories in her life. The first was a collection of the work The Gift of Wisdom in the Mind, Life and Work of Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira, written by Msgr. João Scognamiglio Clá Dias, which the Heralds gave her as a gift; the second, she tells us herself: “After I received the visit from those two, I began to feel better, to feel cured of my depression, and I no longer needed to take medication.”

Searching for answers against communism

Freed from the troublesome depression, Thaís felt more at ease to continue her studies. She was curious to know the origins of communism, because her mother had told her it was a very bad thing. She did some research and soon came to the conclusion that, in her words, it “came from an evil work.”

Hearing of the First Saturday devotion requested by the Virgin of Fatima, she decided to go to Confession, beginning her conversion

As she studied further, she learned about the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima, in which the Blessed Virgin warned humanity about the dangers of communism. She ardently wanted to follow the advice and requests made by the Blessed Virgin, such as the Communion of reparation on the five first Saturdays.

At the same time, she heard about the devotion of the first Fridays of the month, in honour of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and felt that she urgently needed to change her life.

Towards conversion on a path of suffering

The ways of Providence are often mysterious to human understanding.

Sometimes, the moments of greatest difficulty and drama are the ones that God is waiting for to benevolently intervene. It was no different for Thaís and her husband. They were faced with great financial difficulties, which compelled them to move yet again, settling this time in Juiz de Fora, Minas Gerais, where they could count on the support of family members.

For Thaís, the first step in her desired change of life was to make a good Confession. She went to church with this in mind. Unfortunately, the priest on hand treated her harshly and did not even allow her to finish declaring her faults. She recounts:

“I was very upset. I knelt close to the tabernacle and wept so much that my tears fell onto the church pew.”

In front of the Blessed Sacrament, Thaís found what she needed. Feeling a powerful supernatural presence, her heart was filled with the strength needed for a real change of life towards holiness. She then sincerely asked Our Lord for forgiveness for having abandoned the Church.

She expresses what was going on inside her when she returned home:

My husband and my parents were very alarmed because I was crying so much. And the reason was that I had realized how much the Church is being vilified in our day, and I was reproaching myself: ‘I have never done anything for the Church! I am not a true Catholic!’ I was very, very sad, and I thought: ‘How am I going to console Our Lady if I cannot confess? In order to make the devotion of the five first Saturdays, I need to go to Confession for five consecutive months.’”

A decisive piece of advice

It was during this period of perplexity that Thaís received a piece of advice that would be decisive in her life. She continues: “Someone from Manaus phoned me, an old family friend, and told me about consecrating myself to Our Lady as a slave of love. I told him about my experience and asked: ‘Where can I go to Confession?’ He replied: ‘See if the Heralds of the Gospel are in Juiz de Fora. At the Heralds you will be sure to get your Confession.’”

A little reticent and still distressed about what had happened to her, Thaís did not follow her friend’s advice. Shortly afterwards, however, her own parish priest told her in passing that the Heralds had a very beautiful church in Juiz de Fora, and urged her to visit it.

Although a little reluctant, Thaís decided to go: “It was a Saturday. As soon as I entered, I was impressed by the number of children playing in the courtyard. One of them was holding a rosary with great devotion. I was so impressed to see such a young boy with a rosary in his hand!”

Despite this favourable first impression, she still thought: “If anyone treats me badly here, I will simply give up and follow my faith on my own.”

But Our Lady was preparing something different for her: “I was greeted by a very nice lady, a Co-operator of the Heralds, who listened to me, consoled me and took me to a priest so that I could go to Confession. I was also impressed by the beauty of the church, how everything in it – even the pews! – favoured our concentration on the Mass and the prayers.”

The first meeting with Dona Lucilia

Pleasantly surprised by the priest’s paternal concern, Thaís finally made her longed-for Confession, from which she emerged relieved and with the firm decision to start a new life. As a result, she immediately wanted to start preparing to consecrate herself as a slave of love to Our Lady. The first step was to buy the Treatise on True Devotion to the Blessed Virgin by St. Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort.

While preparing for her consecration to Our Lady, Thaís learned of Dona Lucilia, and sought her help to become a mother

“When I went to buy the book and a rosary,” she says, “I saw Dona Lucilia for the first time, in a photograph of her printed on a tile, and I was struck by the rose colour of her shawl. I thought: ‘Wow, how beautiful that shawl is! What vibrant colour! Who is this lady?” I was even a little afraid of her, because she had an incredible majesty, a truly sovereign gaze. I also noticed her elegance and, despite my fear, I felt very attracted. I did not really understand why the Heralds had so many photographs of her, but at the same time “I thought: ‘Well, I don’t understand this devotion now, but I know it must be something very good. I cannot leave this place! This is where I should be.’”

An encouraging dream

Thaís continues: “One day, the Co-operator who had welcomed me so kindly on my first visit to the Heralds told me that she had had a dream about me. In the dream, she was visiting me in a room where Dona Lucilia was holding a baby who was my son. And Dona Lucilia put the baby in her arms, while I was resting on a bed. She had this dream soon after she first met me, but she was afraid to tell me at the time because she knew I did not want to be a mother.

At left, Thaís and her husband after their consecration to Our Lady; at right, the Baptism of Plinio José, her son, at the Heralds’ church in Juiz de Fora

“During that period, when I was getting to know the Church better, a priest advised me to pray to Dona Lucilia, and to read her story, but I never looked into it. He also told me that I should be a mother, because that would be my cure.”

“I want to be a mother to please God!”

But to “be a mother” was what Thaís did not want! So how to solve the problem? She tells us: “On the anniversary of Dona Lucilia’s death, April 21, I attended Mass and on that occasion I asked her for the desire to be a mother. I did not ask to be a mother, because I had no desire to be a mother. So I asked for the desire: ‘Dona Lucilia, give me the desire to be a mother.’”

Won over by grace, Thaís gave Dona Lucilia the opportunity to act in her heart, and some time later she resolutely asked for the grace to be a mother: “Dona Lucilia, I want to be a mother, I want to please God!” However, months passed without any sign of pregnancy.

The following Holy Week, Thaís had a strong inspiration. She was sitting in the first pew of the church during one of the ceremonies. Suddenly, looking at the image of Our Lord Jesus Christ scourged, she remembered a terrible episode that had taken place many years earlier:

“I remembered that I had called down a curse upon myself. Because of my feminist ideas, I had said that I would not allow God to beget a child in my womb. When I remembered this, I became desperate. I told a priest, made my Confession and he told me:My daughter, God takes this very seriously. But go and pray at the feet of the Sorrowful Virgin, talk to Her.’

So I prayed at the feet of the Sorrowful Virgin; I also prayed to Dona Lucilia, asking again for the grace of motherhood. And I told Our Lady that, as a proof of my confidence that I would obtain this favour through Dona Lucilia, I was going to choose my child’s name now: if it was a girl, Maria Lucilia; if it was a boy, Plinio José. I also requested that the child become a nun or a priest in the future, because I really wanted to give that joy to God, and they could save many souls.”

And Thaís soon received what she had asked for: on the following anniversary of Dona Lucilia’s death, she was finally expecting her first child!

One more trial, one more aid

Plinio José was born on December 27, 2022. A few days later, however, Thaís and Clovis were subjected to a terrible ordeal. She recounts:

The family gathered in front of a portrait of Dona Lucilia

A week after my son was born, I had a stroke and was convulsing. My husband says that when he saw me, he started calling for Dona Lucilia, shouting: ‘Dona Lucilia, help me, help me!’”

Taken promptly to hospital, Thaís received the necessary treatment. In the midst of the terrible suffering resulting from the stroke, she never stopped praying to Dona Lucilia. Asking for what? Relief from her pain? No, she asked for something much more important, which shows how effectively restorative her conversion was: “I asked Dona Lucilia not to let me complain, to help me offer my sufferings for the Holy Church.”

Today both are thankful for the suffering they underwent, for it led them to join the ranks of those protected under Dona Lucilia’s mantle

Thanks to the intercession of her protector, within a fortnight Thaís had recovered and was once again able to be with her son. The stroke left her with few sequelae, which in no way impinge upon her daily life.

The road to union with God and to the bosom of the Church was a painful one, but today Thaís and Clovis thank God for not sparing them suffering, because through it they were able to join the ranks of the children that Dona Lucilia maternally protects under her mantle! ◊



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